Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation (WPEF)

We are a science-based non-profit dedicated to counteracting the decline of whitebark pine and enhancing knowledge about the value of its ecosystems.


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Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation
PO Box 17943
Missoula, Montana 59808

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Sugar pine on the PCT with cones.

Five-Needle Pines Community Science Project: Mid-Season Update

Photo credit: Christian Schwarz

In collaboration with the Pacific Crest Trail Association and the California Native Plant Society, the Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation launched the “5-Needle Pines Along the Pacific Crest Trail” project this year. This community science project engages Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) hikers by having them catalog five-needle pines on a phone app to raise awareness about tree presence and location. These five-needle pines include whitebark pine, sugar pine, limber pine, western white pine, and foxtail pine.

Donut chart showing proportion of species found on PCT.

Chart showing proportions of species observations made in 2023 at the end of July.

Observations from PCT hikers about five-needle pines are collected and compiled in real time through the iNaturalist phone application. By the end of July of this year, 76 hikers have made a total of 133 observations. The top three species that were recorded include western white pine (43 observations), sugar pine (43 observations), and whitebark pine (29 observations).



Across the three states, we found that most observations were made in California with 98 observations in total. In Oregon, there were 17 observations, and in Washington, 18 observations. When categorized by species, California’s observations covered all five-needle pine species with a higher proportion of observations for sugar pine (42) and western white pine (27). In Oregon, observations were made for sugar pine (1), western white pine (11), and whitebark pine (5), while Washington had observations just for western white pine (5) and whitebark pine (13). These observation patterns are consistent with the known geographical ranges of these species.

Bar chart showing proportion of species found on PCT by state.

Bar chart showing the distribution of species observations by state. Observations shown are only for points recorded in 2023.

Interested in getting involved? Join the project through iNaturalist and look for five-needle pines on the Pacific Crest Trail!